Day 1 – Fran Wilde Crosses A Bridge


The Prompt

There is a point, in the distance, that your character very badly wants to reach. What is it?

What is the point from which they’ve started out, what are they willing to do to get to that point in the distance? What will they sacrifice?

The bridge is the point between those two places. The bridge is where what they must do to get there, what they’re willing to sacrifice, and the consequences of those decisions coexist.

Write their story, on the bridge.

Are we ready? Today is Day 1 of StoryADay  2021!

Today’s prompt is  from Fran Wilde. Fran is a wonderful short story writer among other things, and she writes weird little stories, but weird little stories that win awards…so let’s pay attention to what she’s asked us to do. 

Fran has asked us to write a story where your character is on a bridge. 

It’s a wonderful metaphor for where characters are in short stories. A short story can be just that moment on the bridge where they can see what they want and they know where they’ve been. 

But they have to do something.

 They have to do something they probably don’t want to do to get to the next step, to get where they want to go. 

Your character wants something and it’s over there. Something is stopping them from getting there. If they’re the three Billy goats gruff, it’s a troll. If it’s a fantasy story, maybe there are rogues on the bridge. If it’s an adventure novel, maybe the bridge is rickety. If it’s a family drama, maybe their spouse is trying to tell them not to go any further….

So many possibilities, but all of them will keep you focused on the fact that, in a short story, a character has a choice to make and they have an action to take. And all the story needs to be is about that. 

You don’t need to do much setup.

You don’t need to really tie it up with a bow. 

You just need to tell us what happens and why it matters. 

So good luck with Day One!

This is a fairly meaty prompt, but on Day One you’ve got lots of energy. You’ve planned for this. You haven’t used up all of your good ideas yet. (That actually is never going to happen)

Go out there and get your teeth into this prompt.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow, but before that,  stop by and let me know what you wrote, how it went and just leave a quick comment for us when you’re done today.

Good for you for showing up. I’m very proud of you. 

Keep writing.

Would you like to receive this kind of enhanced content every day during May AND get to attend Zoom writing sprints with me and the Superstars?

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The Author

Two-time Nebula winner Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and kids, with seven books, so far, that embrace worlds unique (Updraft, The Gemworld) and portal (Riverland, The Ship of Stolen Words), plus numerous short stories appearing in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, Uncanny, and multiple Year’s Best anthologies.

Her work has won the Eugie Foster and Compton Crook awards, been named an NPR Favorite, and has been a finalist for six Nebulas, three Hugos, a World Fantasy Award, three Locii, and the Lodestar. Fran directs the Genre Fiction MFA concentration at Western Colorado University and writes nonfiction for NPR, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Check out her latest work at https://www.franwilde.net/

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

55 thoughts on “Day 1 – Fran Wilde Crosses A Bridge”

  1. Just found StoryaDay and am joining in. My goal is three stories a week. No idea what I’m doing. No idea what to write! Set my timer anyway and wrote in fear and terror for forty minutes but I got to the end. A huge victory for me, as I struggle a lot with reaching the end. Didn’t like the story at all. Too vague and distant. Felt like I was keeping the story at arms length. Later in the day, as I was peeling potatoes, another bridge story, perfectly formed and whole, came into my head. Sat down tonight and wrote the whole thing. I’m so amazed!

  2. I wrote almost 3,000 words. I’m sorely out of practice with writing. It’s not that I haven’t been writing during the last two months. I’ve just not been consistent with it and most of what I write is incoherent junk. Today felt different, but I don’t know that I can do every day what I did today. I wish I could. I’d give anything if I could.

  3. Just finished my story. 1,519 words. (named the main character in honor of Ms. Wilde)

    I’m out of practice since the pandemic started and I am using this to get back in the habit of writing again. I have to say it’s a good start for me.

  4. Good prompt to start with! I got a very messy draft done and in the process have figured out how I’m going to approach writing this month: fill out the framework in the morning, think on the story during the day, and then start writing after dinner.

  5. I live on the east coast of the U.S. and it is hurricane season by us right now. The bridge makes me think about circumstances during a large storm…what happens when an old, beat up bridge over the rising swamp is your only way to safety?

    I didn’t get it all written, but I’ve got a good enough start to pick it up and run with it.

  6. A superb prompt . Thank you so much!
    I am stuck in the middle of a piece of work and this made me see a way forward. I put my protagonist on the bridge and made her look forward to where she wants to be and look back at what she wants to break free from. It has kick started my creative juices and I’m on my way.
    I shall use this time and time again. I want to read books by Fran so I’m off to order my first.

  7. I didn’t manage to finish my story, but I wrote for over an hour (almost 2000 words) and that’s the most I’ve ever written in one sitting, so I’m taking it as a win.

  8. Had a great time writing with this prompt, Thank-you! I had been doing some research on Monet’s garden and that turquoise green bridge he often painted. So I wrote about that little bridge and a woman’s dream to leave life behind for something better by inhabiting his water lilies painting.

  9. I just heard about this today and I did one, a fairy story like flash fiction. Such fun to allow the prompt to weave its way in. And as usual, all the elements of things happening in my life as well.

  10. This is my first time participating in StoryADay, and I really enjoyed Day 1! I did something in my writing that I haven’t done in a while – handwrote my story instead of typing it. That was how I used to write, when I would fill pages of loose notebook paper with stories in between (and during) classes in high school. Since this challenge is to finish a story instead of meet a word count, I decided to go back to that old way of doing it. It felt so good, and I got story 1 finished!
    I think I might post my stories on an old blog so that I can share a link with some friends, but I haven’t decided on that yet. Thanks for a fun first prompt!

  11. We’re off! Since I’m mainly a musician/ songwriter, I wrote a story about a band trying to write the bridge, or middle part of the song. When the rest of the band quits, the drummer Tonya takes it upon herself to write songs. This was a fun and creative way to get ideas on paper and most of all, finish a story! See you tomorrow!

  12. I loved this prompt!! Wrote a micro that has potential to expand. Can see it going a few different ways (time travel, rip van wrinkle), but currently, it’s about a girl lost in the wilderness!

    This year I’m writing all my story a day in my notion pages instead of a Google document. I’m hoping it will keep it a little more organized when I’m ready to review all the little nuggets I come up with

  13. Day One of StoryADay completed. I decided to use this practice to out myself as a writer. I posted info about StoryADay on my Facebook page, then later, I posted the prompt and my story. I also revived a WordPress blog I started in 2014. All the prompts and my stories will go there as well. (I tagged StoryADay. Hopefully I did it right.) This is a big step for me since I’ve kept myself pretty invisible up to now. Plus the writing is really fun! Thanks for the push!

    1. Congrats on being so public with your writing! I love that you posted it. I hadn’t considered doing that since I don’t have much of a writing community around me, but maybe I’ll do it anyway. Thanks for being a bit of a role model for me! 🙂

  14. Hi fellow ‘story -a-day challengees’,

    Quenntis here. This is my first time doing the challenge. I’m in Taiwan.

    Yesterday my son found one of those furry caterpillars munching away on one of my wife’s succulents. We safely relocated the unwelcome intruder across the road to a wild patch of weeds and other green leafy things. I used this incident as the basis for a complete story about a child unsuccessfully crossing the road to get to his mom. I thought of the crosswalk or act of crossing the road as being a dangerous bridge we (usually) successfully navigate all the time as adults. But not as kids.

    Thanks for the prompt. I’m still deciding if I am going to post these completed stories to my blog or not. If I do, I’ll link back to the prompt page of course.

    I’m curious about how everyone else will be handling their daily creations? Sharing them in May? Keeping them private? Using the power of words to take over the world one story at a time? 🙂


  15. I wrote a 400 words flash fiction that I am absolutely NOT happy with, but it is finished and that’s already a good thing. I haven’t finished anything in months so “yeah me!”.
    This month I’ll try to write a piece of flash fiction every day (Wednesdays may be a bit difficult but I’ll still try). I’ll also try to stop writing about nameless characters walking as I (too) often do (well, I’ll start tomorrow since this first story is actually about a nameless man who walks).

  16. I’m Australian so I’m actually writing this prompt on the 2nd of May. I used to write quite frequently but in recent years I lost motivation and have multiple unfinished works. I hope to use these prompts as a way to force myself back into creative writing.
    Thanks for the prompts, it’s always fun to explore the mind and discover new stories.

  17. I just finished writing a horrible, terrible, poorly written short story about a teenager traveling to summer camp to be a camp counselor. And I am so proud of myself! I don’t like it, and I am ok with that because I finished it. I will be able to type it out (I write first drafts in cursive and then type them up. Then I print it out and do my edits in cursive.) and title it Day 1, call it complete. My biggest goal for this year is to actually finish something as much as possible. And to follow through right to the end of the month. I am being gentle on myself and rewarding myself for writing poorly, because writing poorly is still writing! Thank you so much for this challenge.

    1. Continue to be kind to yourself.
      You are writing!
      Finishing is a great accomplishment 💪💪 I struggle with that myself.
      It’s write a story every day (not write a perfect story every day).

  18. Julie, I wanted to check with you before moving forward: But, do you prefer these prompts be kept “secret”? Or do you mind if we share the prompts along with our stories if we– for instance– choose to share the stories on our blogs or elsewhere?

    1. Ideally, you could link back to this page, along with your story if you’re sharing it. That would be awesome.

      1. Oh yes! Definitely will link to the page. I just didn’t know if the prompts were widely available, or only to people who signed up…

  19. Great prompt for starting my first story. I now have a very rough draft of chapter 1. Thank you!

  20. Thanks for the inspiration! This is my first time doing this challenge. I’m going to write tonight. My goal is to write every day and be more consistent. I’m going to write off the cuff which is something I don’t often do.

  21. My Rules for StoryADay May 2021: (1) Write at least a chapter or short story a day, (2) That can mean writing at least one new chapter or short story a day OR revising/rewriting chapter(s) or short story from a previous day, AND (3) Write every day!

    My first time participating in this. I love the challenge and the inspiration from it. Definitely needed something to help me focus. Focus on writing, focus on something else in my world, focus on accomplishing something each day. Helps me to reach writing goals and other life goals.

    1. Great goals.
      Make sure you build in a practice of coming here and commenting every day. It really helps to make it public (even if you ‘fail’ on certain days, saying it out loud gives you the opportunity to look straight at it, figure out what stopped you from doing what you planned, and move on)
      Glad to have you here.

  22. First time I participate. Good and inspiring prompt. I wrote a very short story which I finished. Dystopia, horror/SF . It simply happened… I’m looking forward to the next prompt…

  23. LOVED this prompt! So many places to go with this one and something to which we can all relate. Not only did it prompt me to write, but it prompted me to really think about my goals as a writer.

    1. Oh, how interesting! Yup, we’re all making decisions all the time, and they all lead us to different destinations!

  24. First time to participate, and first time, in a long time, to finish something. It was fun, made me laugh, and I’m excited. I have no idea how the rest of the month will go, but I finished something!

    1. First time participating for me as well, I needed something to keep me sane as I change careers and remodel my first home.

      Writing has been my on again, off again passion for most of my life. This year I want to make it last.

    2. That’s awesome. I’m glad you had fun and I’m so glad you finished something! Woooo!

  25. I loved this prompt! It took me to a place I visit often, both in my own life and in my writing.

    There is a bridge in my hometown that at many points in my life, mostly in the small hours of the night, I have stood on and reflected on my circumstances.

    The story this prompt inspired has been begging to get out of my head for years!

    1. That’s great to hear. Bridges are good places to stand and reflect. Glad it helped pull the story out of your head.

    1. I love how reflective and intentional you are Tammy! And themes are great. I think my best years doing story a day was when I used a theme as well 🙂

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